Ok, now that my ranting is over let’s get back to the purpose of this blog. Prayer.
PRAYER has to do with the entire man. Prayer takes in man in his whole being, mind, soul and body. It takes the whole man to pray, and prayer affects the entire man in its gracious results. As the whole nature of man enters into prayer, so also all that belongs to man is the beneficiary of prayer. All of man receives benefits in prayer. The whole man must be given to God in praying. The largest results in praying come to him who gives of himself, all of himself, all that belongs to himself, to God. This is the secret of full consecration, and this is a condition of successful praying, and the sort of praying which brings the largest fruits.
The men of olden times who wrought well in prayer, who brought the largest things to pass, who moved God to do great things, were those who were entirely given over to God in their praying. This does not mean to engage in contemplative prayer or repetitive prayer or meditating. God wants, and must have, all that there is in man in answering his prayers. He must have wholehearted men through whom to work out his purposes and plans concerning men. God must have men in their entirety. No double-minded man need apply. No vacillating man can be used. No man with a divided allegiance to God, and the world and self, can do the praying that is needed.
Holiness is wholeness, and so God wants holy men, whole-hearted and true, for his service and for the work of praying, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” These are the sort of men God wants for leaders of the hosts of Israel, and these are the kind out of which the praying class is formed. Man is a trinity in one, and yet man is neither a trinity nor a dual creature when he prays, but a unit. Man is one in all the essentials and acts and attitudes of piety. Soul, spirit and body are to unite in all things pertaining to life and godliness. The body, first of all, engages in prayer, since it assumes the praying attitude in prayer. Prostration of the body becomes us in praying as well as prostration of the soul. How many of us are so very good at prostrating our body, but prostration of the soul? How many of us can truly say we know how to “bow down our soul” in humility? The attitude of the body counts much in prayer, although it is true that the heart may be haughty and lifted up, and the mind listless and wandering, and the praying a mere form, even while the knees are bent in prayer.
Daniel kneeled three times a day in prayer. Solomon kneeled in prayer at the dedication of the temple. Our Lord in Gethsemane prostrated himself in that memorable season of praying just before his betrayal. Where there is earnest and faithful praying the body always takes on the form most suited to the state of the soul at the time. The body joins the soul in praying.Think about what those last two sentences said. “The body always takes on the form most suited to the state of the soul at the time…” Wow, I had to think about how hard it is to quiet myself sometimes for prayer, and my body is still struggling to move.
The entire man must pray. The whole man, life, heart, temper, mind, are in it. Each and all join in the prayer exercise. Doubt, double-mindedness, division of the affections, are all foreign to the closet. Character and conduct, undefiled, made whiter than snow, are mighty potencies, and are the most seemly beauties for the closet hour, and for the struggles of prayer. Lord, help me find beauty in my closet. I pray that you help me keep those things that are foreign at bay.
A loyal intellect must conspire and add the energy and fire of its undoubting and undivided faith to that kind of an hour, the hour of prayer. Necessarily the mind enters into the praying. First of all, it takes thought to pray. The intellect teaches us we ought to pray. By serious thinking beforehand the mind prepares itself for approaching a throne of grace. Thought goes before entrance into the closet and prepares the way for true praying. It considers what will be asked for in the closet hour. True praying does not leave to the inspiration of the hour what will be the requests of that hour. As praying is asking for something definite of God, so, beforehand, the thought arises–“What shall I ask for at this hour? “All vain and evil and frivolous thoughts are eliminated, and the mind is given over entirely to God, thinking of him of what is needed, and what has been received in the past. By every token, prayer, in taking hold of the entire man, does not leave out the mind. The very first step in prayer is a mental one. The disciples took that first step when they said unto Jesus at one time, “Lord, teach us to pray.” We must be taught through the intellect, and just in so far as the intellect is given up to God in prayer, will we be able to learn well and readily the lesson of prayer. The disciples asked their Lord to teach them to pray, but they clarified that by saying “as John taught his disciples”. This means repentance before prayer. This should be our preparation for prayer in all of man.
Paul spreads the nature of prayer over the whole man. It must be so. It takes the whole man to embrace in its godlike sympathies the entire race of man– the sorrows, the sins and the death of Adam’s fallen race. It takes the whole man to run parallel with God’s high and sublime will in saving mankind. It takes the whole man to stand with our Lord Jesus Christ as the one mediator between God and sinful man. This is the doctrine Paul teaches in his prayer-directory in the second chapter of his first epistle to Timothy.
Nowhere does it appear so clearly that it requires the entire man in all departments of his being, to pray than in this teaching of Paul. It takes the whole man to pray till all the storms which agitate his soul are calmed to a great calm, till the stormy winds and waves cease as by a godlike spell. It takes the whole man to pray till cruel tyrants and unjust rulers are changed in their natures and lives, as well as in their governing qualities, or till they cease to rule. It requires the entire man in praying till high and proud and unspiritual ecclesiastics become gentle, lowly and religious, till godliness and gravity bear rule in church and in state, in home and in business, in public as well as in private life. “It takes the whole man to pray till all the storms which agitate his soul are calmed to a great calm……” Only by prayer can those storms be calmed and the holiness become wholeness.
By Edward McKendree Bounds
Em Bounds’ understanding of prayer gives such a beautiful explanation of what prayer should and should not be. This is a short excerpt from Prayer Takes In the Whole Man. Blessings to you today!